Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters, locations and concepts belonging to Marvel Entertainment. No claim of ownership is made or implied by me in using their property. No part of this work is intended for material gain of any kind. It is intended for the sole purpose of creative exercise and the entertainment of others.
Theresa Cassidy, vibrant, pregnant, and in the throes of a particularly bad case of nesting, was not in the mood to have her latest battle against dust and grime interrupted. So naturally it was.
"Hey, Terry? Can you come up here?"
And just as naturally, it was Jamie doing the interrupting.
"I'm a little busy right now," Terry called back without even bothering to look up from the counter she was scrubbing. There was a particularly stubborn stain that she was determined to conquer at all costs, and she kept her attention fixed upon it as if it might try to sneak away the moment she let her guard down. She paused to inspect her work and her brows furrowed in irritation as she noticed that it hadn't even faded a little. "What are you even doing on the roof anyway?" she asked distractedly as she moved in to attack it again.
"I want you to see something," Jamie insisted from the top of the stairway. There was a definite nervous edge to his voice, which was nothing unusual for him in Terry's experience. The trace of giddiness she caught along with it, however, that was a new one. Still, she was rarely mistaken when it came to her sense of hearing. "It's important."
Terry pressed her lips together and let out an impatient and most unladylike grunt. "Can't you just come down here and show me?" she asked. "I'm not exactly built for climbing at the moment, in case you'd forgotten." As if to emphasize her point, she gave her belly a gentle pat, even though Jamie wasn't there to see it.
"There's a foot rub in it for you."
That was enough to send Terry's scrubbing hand skidding to a halt. He was just playing dirty now, tempting her like that. The stain on the counter was still taunting her, but she risked taking her eyes off it for a moment anyway so she could glance accusingly at the stairs. Jamie was obscenely talented at foot rubs, which was what made his attempt to lure her away with the offer of one so unfair. Which didn't mean she was above taking him up on the offer anyway. "How long a foot rub?" she asked warily.
There was suspiciously long pause. "Half an hour?"
"Make it a solid hour. If your arms get sore you can have one of your Dupes take over."
"Forty-five minutes, and one of my Dupes will massage your shoulders at the same time."
So what if she was a sell-out? Terry set her cleaning brush down and gave the stain a parting glare before abandoning it and waddling her way to the stairs. By the time she finished hauling herself and Jamie's kid up to the roof she was muttering a few choice phrases under her breath. She liked to think of herself as a sweeter person than that, but growing up with Black Tom and the Juggernaut for role models had taught her to be creative when the spirit moved her.
By the time she crested the access doorway and got a good look at what was waiting for her, however, she forgot all about finding new ways to be rude and vulgar.
It was coming on dusk in Detroit, and the sky was just starting to drift into a muted sulfur-yellow. X-Factor Investigations' new office wasn't in the most picturesque location by any stretch, but it still afforded a decent view at times. A table had been set up, complete with decorative cloth lining, not far from the roof edge where she'd be able to best enjoy the sunset. There were two long candles lit at the center and a serving tray complete with rounded metal lid concealing its contents, although the aromas wafting her way were plenty enough to make her mouth water.
A surprised smile spread across Terry's face as she looked over at Jamie, who was waiting for her by the doorway. "What's all this?" she asked.
Jamie was wearing his trademark trenchcoat and black shirt with the green dots and was smirking in a self-conscious way that was a little too endearing for his own good. "Oh this?" he said, feigning a look as if he was only just now noticing the table arrangement. "You've been working yourself pretty hard lately, and I thought it was time I showed some appreciation for it," he told her. Then, eyes shooting away from her for a moment, he added more quietly, "Especially since you won't let anyone help."
Terry couldn't help a soft chuckle. "I keep telling you I don't mind," she told him a bit more affectionately than she'd intended. As ridiculous as it was for him to haul her all the way out to the roof for something like this, it was sweet of him, and since she was already here, she figured she may as well enjoy whatever he'd whipped up. She idly wondered if he'd ever sent one of his Dupes off to learn to cook and absorbed all the knowledge. It was rare to see him in the kitchen preparing meals, though. For all she knew there was takeout hiding inside that platter. "You still owe me a foot rub."
"Of course," Jamie agreed a bit too readily as he followed her to the table and pulled out a chair for her to sit in.
"You didn't send the others out to work the Bullock case just for this, did you?" she asked as she carefully navigated her way onto the chair.
"Would I do something like that?" Jamie replied, which as far as she was concerned was a confession of guilt admissible in court.
Terry gave him a look that said exactly that, but chose to let it slide. For the moment, at least. She started to reach for her napkin, but paused, fingers just brushing the edges of the cloth as the first few strains of music reached her ears from below. "Is someone playing the violin?" she asked.
Not waiting for Jamie to answer, she leaned out until she could crane her neck over the lip of the roof and peer down at the street. Sure enough, there was one of Jamie's Dupes, playing a lovely rendition of Moonlight Serenade. Apparently he'd taken it upon himself to pick up some music instruction as well. But that wasn't all. There was a whole fleet of Jamies ringing the building, all of them looking up at her with the same goofy smile and holding red balloons. On cue, they released the balloons as one, letting them float up toward her in a crimson wave of helium-filled whimsy.
Terry pulled back just as the balloons crested the rooftop. "What in the-" she said, only to be interrupted as the balloons began to burst over her head. She gasped, first in surprise, then again in wonder as the rose petals hidden in each balloon cascaded over her in a fragile, fragrant shower. Terry held out her hands and watched a couple settle softly into her palms while a few more clung to her hair. "Jamie, what are you doing?" she breathed.
He still hadn't taken his seat, and was giving her a look that made her stomach flutter a bit. "Terry, I've been thinking about us," he said in a soft, serious voice as he stepped closer to her. Fingers raked through a head of deep brown hair that never did seem to want to stay properly combed. "About you, and how important you really are to me."
"Oh, my god."
"And I know I probably should have done this a long time ago," Jamie continued, right before bending down on one knee.
"Oh my god!"
Terry's hands flew to cover her mouth as she stared, eyes wide as the sun setting behind her, and tried to remind herself to breathe. Rose petals were still falling all around her and Jamie. This couldn't possibly be happening, she told herself, and yet it was. Her heart was thudding against her chest far too heavily for this to be her imagination.
"Yes?" She had to practically squeak the word out. She was trembling, and was fairly certain even the baby was bouncing around with excitement.
Jamie began to reach inside his coat. "…will you-"
"There you are!" Jamie Prime suddenly interrupted from the roof's access door. "I knew one of you had gotten away from me."
Terry watched in horror as the Dupe she'd thought was the real Jamie evaporated right in front of her, drifting like he was caught in a taffy pull until Jamie Prime had finished absorbing him. A second later she was on her feet, a frosty gaze lancing straight through the man who was only just now taking in the sight of the table. And the rose petals. And all the knowledge of the Dupe he'd just taken back.
Jamie blinked for a second as realization dawned and all the color drained out of his face. His mouth worked silently for a moment, but all it took was one look at the fists clenched at Terry's sides for him to find his voice again.